Kindergarten Teacher Fosters Love for LearningSarah Fleek, a teacher at Woodburn Lutheran School, used to say she’d never teach kindergarten. But once she tried it, she fell in love with the younger students.That’s why Mrs. Fleek, who has been the kindergarten teacher for five years at Woodburn, works toward creating an atmosphere of curiosity and hands-on exploration.“My goal is to create an environment that fosters a love for learning,” she explains. “Everyday something great happens and the kids say, ‘This is the best day ever!’”Mrs. Fleek is no stranger to Woodburn Lutheran School. Part of a second generation Woodburn Lutheran family, she is also the third alumni who returned to work at the school.
“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and didn’t intend to come back here, but I’ve never regretted it. The small setting is like a family,” she says.Mrs. Fleek’s enthusiasm extends into her classroom, where she creates kinesthetic experiences that teach the foundational skills students need for first grade.Students participate in an alphabet fashion show, where each child wears clothing beginning with a letter. Alphabet cooking lessons allow children to explore recipes and numbers as students make food in the classroom.In Mrs. Fleek’s class, learning is active and fun—a place where students are encouraged to be curious and explore thematic ideas. During a pumpkin-themed day in the fall, students cook with pumpkins, explore whether pumpkins float in science, and do math with pumpkins. Her kinesthetic approach means the kids are rarely sitting still.“I like to spark an idea and let the kids explore things,” she says. “Anything I can do to make the lessons stick.”With a class full of varying skill levels, Mrs. Fleek finds ways to reach the kids who need extra help. Her small class of eleven students means she is able to devote extra time to their needs, giving them more one-on-one attention.“One of the neatest things to see is a struggling student who comes to me at the end of the year and can read a book,” she says, noting the focus is on individual improvement.“I want them to leave knowing they’ve done their best and I want them to enjoy school,” she adds. “I want them to be proud to say they go to Woodburn Lutheran School.”This approach is not only evident in Mrs. Fleek’s class, but in other grades as well.
“With the smaller class size, you know who’s struggling and those who can go above and beyond,” she explains. “Because we are a small school, teachers can devote extra time to the kids that need it. We have a staff of teachers who will go the extra mile for our students.”It’s this personal approach that allows students to flourish at Woodburn Lutheran School and be prepared for the future.“We’ve had multiple people tell us that we’re a hidden gem here,” she adds. “There are some great things happening at Woodburn Lutheran School.”